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Monday, March 19, 2018

2018 Ram 2500 Review

2018 Ram 2500 Review
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The 2018 Ram 2500 balances style, comfort, and capability very well.

The 2018 Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup truck offers way more capability than most of us will ever need, but those who regularly haul heavy loads will find it to be a superlative choice.  

In our eyes, the Ram 2500 scores a commendable 6.3 out of 10, albeit with some asterisks.

That heady score doesn’t take into account safety or fuel economy ratings since it’s never been crash-tested by federal or independent agencies. Big trucks of its ilk are unfortunately exempt from EPA testing thanks to a loophole not likely to be closed up any time soon.


This year, the Ram 2500 lineup grows with the addition of a new, ultra-decadent range-topper: the Limited Tungsten. A rearview camera is also now standard and the Ram’s optional 8.4-inch infotainment system sees some worthwhile upgrades that boost its usability with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as its resolution.

The Ram 2500 line is available in five body styles with a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. Eight trim levels are on offer: Tradesman, SLT, Big Horn/Lone Star, Sport, Power Wagon, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, Limited, and the new Limited Tungsten. Our advice? Narrow down a price point and see what fits.

Ram 2500s come standard with a 5.7-liter V-8 rated at 383 horsepower, while a 6.4-liter V-8 with 410 hp is on the options list. The pricey 6.7-liter turbodiesel inline-6 is just the ticket for heavy haulers, though, with a maximum of 930 pound-feet of torque available in certain gears on the tougher Ram 3500. Equipped just right—and it takes a careful selection of options—the Ram 2500 is rated to tow up to nearly 18,000 pounds. Crew-cab, four-wheel-drive versions of the Ram 2500 generally come in closer to 16,000 pounds. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard with the turbodiesel, while a 6-speed automatic is optional there and mandatory with both gas engines.

Like other heavy-duty pickups, the Ram line uses solid front and rear axles, but it stands out from its rivals by including coil springs rather than leaf springs out back and by offering an air suspension as an extra-cost option. At every level, the Ram 2500 is a workhorse, but the Power Wagon is particularly notable for its tenacity off-road. It’s too big for most trails, but it offers up gobs of ground clearance, massive all-terrain tires, and locking front and rear differentials.

Styling
The 2018 Ram 2500 is an overgrown Ram 1500, and that’s all right with us.

The 2018 Ram 2500 holds its head high with big rig-inspired styling.

This heavy-duty truck is a near-twin to the Ram 1500, at least until you get up close. Then, the Ram 2500’s taller grille, bigger headlights, and generally more muscular look becomes apparent. Each trim level has its own take on big pickup character. Tradesman variants ride on basic steel wheels and have unpainted bumpers, while SLTs and Big Horn/Lone Star trims up the chrome quotient substantially. The Ram 2500 Power Wagon is the odd man out with its high-riding stance and Warn winch integrated into its front bumper—not to mention its standard rooftop running lights.


The Ram 2500 is softer inside, with an interior again mostly cribbed from the lighter-duty Ram 1500. The symmetrical dash is laid out well and makes most controls with an easy reach.

Some buyers might want a little more differentiation from the Ram 1500, but that more mainstream model is hardly a bad starting point. 

Performance
Robust engines and a compliant suspension make the 2018 Ram 2500 a great choice for hauling.

A trio of muscular engines and a ride quality that’s above average for big pickups make the 2018 Ram 2500 one of the most pleasant ways to whittle away the miles while lugging a trailer the size of a small Pacific island.

We’ve given it an extra point for its engines, and while we acknowledge that the Ram 2500 rides better than its competitors, it’s still a stiff, bouncy truck compared to a more composed passenger car (or even the Ram 1500). On our scale, that nets these big trucks a 5 out of 10.

Standard on the Ram 2500 is a 5.7-liter V-8 engine rated at 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. It’s more than adequate for lighter-duty loads, but it can struggle to motivate 6,000-plus pounds of Ram 2500 up grades or with a full complement of passengers aboard.

Ram fits the 5.7-liter to Tradesman, SLT, and Big Horn/Lone Star trims as standard.

The better choice for most users is the 6.4-liter V-8 rated at a stronger 410 hp and 429 pound-feet of torque and paired to the same 6-speed automatic. It’s smooth and strong, albeit very thirsty.

If you plan to tow or haul heavy loads, the costly 6.7-liter turbodiesel inline-6 is certainly the way to go. The turbodiesel can be paired to both 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions and it has different power outputs accordingly: 350 hp and 660 lb-ft with the manual and 370 hp and 800 lb-ft with the automatic. That’s impressive power and it’s enough to confidently tow upwards of 17,000 pounds, depending on the configuration.

All Ram 2500s can be ordered with a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive; the transfer case is part-time and not meant for use on dry surfaces. The 2500’s massive dimensions don’t exactly make it an ideal off-roader, but the Power Wagon lives up to its name with sheer brute force, locking differentials up front and out back, and a front sway-bar that disconnects at the tap of a button.
The Power Wagon is the stiffest of the group around town, but all Ram 2500s are helped out by their coil-sprung rear suspension. An air suspension is optional and its benefits are realized by more than just a more plush ride quality. The suspension can be lowered to ease entry and cargo loading and it can be raised for more ground clearance.

Though the Ram 2500 tracks straight on the highway, its hydraulically boosted steering is light and vague at all speeds.

Comfort & Quality
From work truck to tony truck, the 2018 Ram 2500 is comfortable and roomy.

The 2018 Ram 2500 can be a heavy-hauling luxury car, or it can be a bare bones work truck. We’ve given it points for its comfortable seats and roomy interior, but we’ve dialed it back to a 6 out of 10 for its hefty step-in height. 

Three cab configurations are on offer—two-door regular cab, roomy Crew Cab, and gargantuan Mega Cab. Regular and Crew Cab models include an 8-foot bed; optional on Crew Cabs and mandatory on the Mega Cab is a 6-foot-4-inch bed.

Regular Cab Ram 2500s are pretty much relegated to fleet use and aren’t common on dealer lots. The Crew Cabs and especially Mega Cabs offer stretch-out room for five adults (or six with the standard front bench seat). Firm, supportive seats offer a wide range of adjustment and can be upholstered in everything from vinyl on the Tradesman to several different grades of cloth and leather. The range-topping Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn and Limited Tungsten models have semi-aniline leather that’s nicer than what you’ll find in many luxury cars.

Interior materials similarly range from hard-wearing plastics on Tradesman to soft-touch materials in higher-spec models.

One downside typical to heavy-duty pickups is a very high step-in height, something exacerbated on four-wheel-drive models.

Safety
As the 2018 Ram 2500 hasn’t been crash-tested, we can’t assign it a score.

The 2018 Ram 2500 hasn’t been crash-tested by federal or independent agencies, so we can’t assign it a score here. 

It’s also light on the most advanced safety tech, something that comes as a surprise given the Ram 2500’s easy-to-inflate sticker prices—although that’s a complaint we can levy on its Ford and GM rivals, too.

All Ram 2500s have six airbags, stability control, and anti-lock brakes. A rearview camera is newly standard for 2018 and a cargo-area camera is on the options list for models with the upgraded 8.4-inch infotainment screen inside.

Parking sensors are optional, but the Ram 2500 lacks blind-spot monitors, automatic emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic alerts—features that would be helpful on such a large vehicle.

Features
The hugely-customizable 2018 Ram 2500 can be whatever you want it to be.

Although base models are indeed basic, the Ram 2500 offers a huge lineup with plenty of individual options and it can be fitted with a top-tier infotainment system that now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Ram 2500 range starts with the work-oriented Tradesman. Regular cab models are quite basic with their manual windows and hose-out interiors, but Crew Cab variants have more power accessories. A basic AM/FM radio is standard and a 5.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and a USB port is on the options list.

For consumers, the lineup begins with the SLT. It adds cloth upholstery, keyless entry, and the upgraded 5.0-inch audio system in addition to chrome bumpers and alloy wheels. From there, the Lone Star (sold only in Texas) and Big Horn (sold in the other 49 states) trims add a few cosmetic details and are available with a wide range of options like heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and an 8.4-inch infotainment system with or without navigation.

Power Wagons build on Lone Star/Big Horn trims with lots of off-road tech: 33-inch off-road rubber, a Warn winch, locking front and rear differentials, a raised suspension, and a full complement of skid plates.

If it’s a luxurious hauler you’re after, start with the Laramie and its standard leather upholstery and upgraded audio system. The Laramie Longhorn channels West Texas with upgraded leather and saddle-inspired interior and exterior design touches, as well as two-tone paint.

The Ram 2500 Limited goes in a tonier direction with lots of chrome and monochrome paint. This year’s new Ram 2500 Limited Tungsten tops the lineup with even fancier leather and it can be upgraded with a package that includes a synthetic suede headliner and power-folding exterior mirrors.


Numerous individual options are available and they generally go in two directions: to add capability or to make the Ram 2500 even more comfortable. Among our favorites are the available Ram Box storage units that convert the bed’s side rails into lockable storage bins and a camera pointed at the bed that lets the passenger compartment keep tabs on what’s hidden behind.

Fuel Economy
The EPA doesn’t require the 2018 Ram 2500 to report its fuel efficiency, but it’s safe to say that these are not miserly trucks.

Due to an unfortunate loophole in the EPA’s testing, large trucks like the 2018 Ram 2500 don’t have to report their fuel economy to the federal government.

As a result, we can’t assign a score here—and that’s a shame.

Suffice to say, however, that you’re not likely to see above 20 mpg even in the thriftiest version of the Ram 2500, which is presumably the lightest, a single cab, rear-wheel drive Tradesman with the 5.7-liter V-8.

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